Sunday, October 18, 2015

This and That.....About My Favorite Authors Part 2!

Jan Karon

The Mitford Series

Happy Saturday everyone! It's very Fall-like and windy in my part of the world today. The perfect day to "cozy up" with a warm cup of tea, your feet up on the couch and all wrapped up in a throw. It's also the perfect day for me to continue my series on my top three favorite authors. I'm really excited to share this author with you because her books have really touched my life and have given me many, many happy moments of reading! 

As you can see from the photo above, I'm talking about Jan Karon, who is the author of the "Mitford Series" and the "Father Tim Series" of books as well as several other stand alone books. I will focus today on the Mitford Series which is where I first fell in love with Jan Karon's writing. I still remember reading an excerpt of her first book, "At Home in Mitford", in a magazine article years ago. I can remember thinking at the time that I would like to read more about Mitford and Father Tim. I was so happy to find that I could, when Jan Karon's first book was published! From that moment on, I was hooked on Mitford! (And luckily, Jan Karon has just released a new Mitford book, so fans can continue reading in the series!)

I know that many bloggers out there are already fans of the Mitford Series, because I read about it on your blogs! But, for those who may not be familiar with the series, I'll give a little detail. The story lines in Mitford all revolve around the central figure of Father Tim, who at the beginning of the series is an unmarried Episcopal priest in his sixties. He lives his faith in loving and practical ways, such as visiting with his parishioners Miss Sadie and her dear friend Louella, or cooking a meatloaf or ham to share at a church pot luck supper. He puts up with his annoying church secretary, Emma Newland, and joins in with his doctor, Hoppy Harper, who himself struggles with faith after the loss of his wife, in praying for patients. Everything Father Tim does is blanketed with prayer. We find as the series continues, that Father Tim has hurts and questions from his past that he must come to terms with and these hurts and questions make us realize that even men (and women) pastors of the faith are human just like the rest of us. 

There are so many characters in Mitford to love and to laugh with that I know I won't be able to do them justice in a blog post. Who couldn't love Dooley, the little boy abandoned by his mother, that Father Tim takes in to raise? His first meeting with Father Tim was punctuated by his telling the Father that he needed, "to take a dump!" And then there is Cynthia, the neighbor who moves into the house next door. We come to know Cynthia as an artist with a painful past who finds redemption in God's love and in the love of a certain priest. (Spoiler Alert!!) But, oh the story of how this love blossoms! Only Jan Karon can weave such a story! Or how about the characters of Percy and Velma,  owners of the The Mainstreet Grill. The books tell us that if you eat there, you'll be regular! And then there are Mule Skinner and J.C. Hogan, friends of Father Tim who meet with him regularly at The Mitford Grill to eat lunch. And we can't forget the Marmalade cake made by Esther Bolik. My mouth waters just thinking about these cakes that were given to people as gifts at Christmas time or just to give comfort when needed. Of course, one of these cakes was almost Father Tim's undoing....but, you have to read the books to figure that one out!

I could go on and on about the series and the characters that are found in these books. Suffice it to say, that these stories are rich in the joys of human warmth, some suffering and lots of day to day living. But, the stories are always presented in a way that brings hope and the sure knowledge that in the end all will be well, because God's love is surely present in all things. Faith is the capstone (in my opinion) of Jan Karon's books. 

I mentioned in my last blog post that the next author I would be sharing about also enjoyed Miss Read books. It's funny because the first time I read a Mitford book I felt like there was a similarity to Miss Read. I just experienced that same small village down home comfort in reading about Mitford that I had experienced while reading about Fairacre and Thrush Green. Imagine my delight when I saw this at the top of one of my Miss Read books!

Jan Karon had read Miss Read books and loved them just like me! This knowledge has only added to my delight in reading the Mitford Series. Knowing that my top two favorite authors have a connection is amazing!

Because of my great love for this series, my husband gifted me with several Mitford village pieces for one of our wedding anniversaries years ago. I enjoy these pieces so much. Since they are the winter series, I usually display them at Christmas.

Another friend and I also led a book discussion with a group of women from my church when the first Mitford book was published. The group loved the book so much that we decided to make a pilgrimage to Blowing Rock, NC which is where Jan Karon was living at the time. Blowing Rock was also believed to be the "Mitford" on which Jan Karon based her books. The ladies and I had such a great time touring Mitford....oops, I mean Blowing Rock together. We saw the church which looked surprisingly like Lord's Chapel and saw the sprawling white house which reminded me of Miss Sadie's house. How could we not try to find Jan Karon's cottage? I'm kind of ashamed to admit this, but we had been given a few "hints" from town folks about the location of her cottage. So, we drove in that direction. Her cottage had been featured in a recent magazine article of the time, so we had a general idea of what it looked like. And, yes, we did find the cottage. And ....although I am red faced with shame to admit this.... some of us might have gone up on the porch and rung her doorbell! We just LOVED her books so much and we were SO overcome with seeing the buildings come alive in Blowing Rock, we just wanted a quick hello. A very lovely and kind young woman answered the doorbell and after listening to us gush about how much we loved Jan Karon and her writing and just wanted to tell her that, the young woman thanked us and told us the author wasn't at home. So we quickly got in our cars and drove away. Like I said, I am ashamed to admit that we bothered the poor woman in her home. I know she eventually moved to a farm in Virginia where fans like us couldn't come up on her front porch! But, I share this to let you know the affect the Mitford Series can have on you! These books leave you wanting more....more friends like Father Tim, more warmth from the people you live and work with, and most of all, more faith in God. The faith that Father Tim conveys in all he does. Really....what more could an author ask for than fans that love her books so much?!

So, that's it for today's post. I'll finish up my series of favorite authors next time. This will be tough because I have LOTS of books and authors I love. Whom will I choose for this third post....hmmm....

How about you?  I would love to hear some comments about my author's post or my blog in general or your favorite authors....leave a comment and we'll talk! Until next time, hope your day is cozy and you have a great book to read!

Love from my Mitford to yours,